Dulli's Twilight Singers Ripen On 'Blackberry'

When the Afghan Whigs called it quits in 2001, singer/frontman Greg Dulli's future had already begun in the form of his Twilight Singers side project, which had released its Columbia debut "Twilight a

When the Afghan Whigs called it quits in 2001, singer/frontman Greg Dulli's future had already begun in the form of his Twilight Singers side project, which had released its Columbia debut "Twilight as Played by the Twilight Singers" the year before.

Even though he'd spent the past 15 years leading the critically acclaimed Whigs, Dulli wasn't necessarily ready to leave the band dynamic in favor of a solo outing. But he also wasn't ready to engage in another democracy, which is why he chose to spearhead the new act and collaborate with various guest musicians.

"If I do a Greg Dulli project, I will play every instrument on the record and it will be me only," says Dulli. "That is who Greg Dulli is. Otherwise, I'm part of a group. If there are other people helping me to play instruments and helping me with anything, then I have to call it something else. To me, the Twilight Singers are an extension of me still wanting to be part of a band. I will do a Greg Dulli record someday, but I haven't done it yet.

"For me, I'm still interested in 'hot rodding' music a little bit and if I do that, I've got to bring in a couple of ringers," he continues. "And when I eventually do a solo record, it will probably be a pretty stark affair. I fool around, but right now, this is sort of my obsession."

The debut Twilight Singers disc was originally recorded in 1997, prior to the release of the Whigs' last studio album "1965." When Dulli returned to the Twilight material, it quickly changed form into an alternative and trip-hop sounding affair, heavily inspired by the remix outfit Fila Brazillia. Hastily, Dulli went against his best judgment and toured in support of the disc, playing 13 shows before retreating back to his Los Angeles home.

"They were under-rehearsed, they were hemmed in by the fact that the material was kind of slow and somber and there wasn't a whole lot to choose from, as far as to make a setlist," offers Dulli. "In general, I wouldn't have done that tour. I was kind of against it from the beginning and I did it to satisfy our record company."

Having not played live for an audience since, Dulli has spent the last two years working on the second Twilight Singers disc, "Blackberry Belle," due Oct. 14 via Birdman/One Little Indian. The album was overhauled three times before Dulli found something he liked, recording with more than two dozen musicians to get the 11-track set into its current shape.

Despite such a large number of musicians in the studio, this songwriter says he writes with only one person in mind.

"Mostly [writing] is very self-indulgent in a good way," says Dulli. "I think self-indulgent is good when you are an artist. I don't have any expectations to fulfill except for my own. And once you become kind of public property, like the Whigs did, you are always writing songs for more than yourself."

Unlike the last round of touring, Dulli plans on taking the Twilight Singers -- rounded out by John Skibic (guitar), Scott Ford (bass) and Mathias Schneeberger (keyboard/guitars) -- on the road beginning in October for nearly 100 dates.

"The thing about touring now is that I wrote way too many songs, so I have 22 songs from this particular phase that are playable and that I would like to play," says Dulli. "So, instead of having 12 songs to pick from to play a show, now I have 30-something. I have a bigger palette on which to draw from and that makes it a lot easier to go play a show. You are not just hemmed in by just one record. And I'm pretty big on reworking other people's songs and whipping those out. We'll be playing a couple of surprise covers on these shows coming up."

At the very least, Dulli sounds quite content concerning life after the Afghan Whigs. "I definitely feel like there is some liberation," he concludes. "This is a new thing and I don't really have any expectations or preconceptions. I'm here to shatter preconceptions."